I always hear of parents who have 'found their new normal', when it comes to adjusting their family dynamic to include a child with special needs. It's very true. My world spun the second I heard of Parker's diagnosis, and it has never returned to that previous, comfortable, secure axis where 'those things happen to other families' and 'I've only been to hospital to give birth to my babies'. I solidly plugged away, processing all the information I needed to in the early days, and can now say my life is at its new normal. My priorities have changed of course, and my motives, but I can honestly say I am grateful my life has led me to this special place.
No, my motive is not to splash my 'private life' across social media.. believe me, it's just not. As well as the amazing conversations I get to have, I get the occasional message about my techniques, my blog posts, things they've spotted in pictures.. even the baby furniture and toys I use! It can be interesting at times! I try to raise awareness, and expose people to a world they would perhaps never have seen a glimpse of otherwise. A friend told me the other day, 'I stay subscribed for the cute baby pictures, but I'm actually learning alot!'
And of course, I have loved talking to new parents, and connecting them up within their new community with all the resources they need. My motive is to SHOW people things. New parents, and family & friends of parents, who have a child with Down syndrome, or any other disability or with additional needs. Words can only go so far. But an image? The proverbial saying is true. A picture IS worth a thousand words. I want to show people how things are. To paint a picture of what a new normal looks like, grounded in reality. And more importantly, how things CAN be.
I decided that my family's new normal would be whatever made us happy. The things that make me happy make a very short list. My family, my friends, microplanning for my future and micromanaging my immediate surroundings. Hey, at least I'm not in denial about it. And I am made really, REALLY happy, when I read comments from people online. People who have just realized the baby model in the photo in the magazine or online, advertising bibs for a large company, has Down syndrome.
Just like their newborn, or baby, or child, or brother or sister. And seeing how loved and happy that baby is. Just hanging out. Selling a bib or two. Lookin' cute.
That is my new normal. And Parker's. For better or worse, I make each choice for his and my family's future, and I can only hope each choice ends up being a positive one.
To new and expectant mothers, I want to say- This too, SHALL pass. These feelings, sense of isolation and being 'off-tilt'. Like your centred view of the world has exploded and left you flailing deep in Google search pages.
Because, no matter what your decision, you life will go on, and your family's life will continue. Everyone and everything will be OK. Either way, there is no option to go back; but it will be a NEW normal. And it will be OK. Everything will be perfect.